Maestro Fresh Wes and Skinny Puppy Win 2023 Slaight Heritage Prize

The annual award honours classic Canadian albums created before the Polaris Music Prize launched in 2006

Photo: Skinny Puppy by S. Bollmann (right)

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Oct 19, 2023

Maestro Fresh Wes's Symphony in Effect (1989) and Skinny Puppy's Bites (1985) have been selected to receive the 2023 Slaight Family Polaris Heritage Prize.

Each year, the honour is bestowed upon two classic Canadian albums — one chosen by jury and one chosen by the public — of the highest artistic distinction (without regard to sales or affiliations) that were released before the Polaris Music Prize launched in 2006. The debut LP from the Vancouver electro-industrial crew won the public vote, while the Toronto rapper's debut got the Heritage designation thanks to the 11-member Polaris Heritage Prize jury.

"I am thrilled to receive this prize," Maestro Fresh Wes said in a statement. "Symphony in Effect is the backbone, not only for Canadian hip-hop, but for Black music in Canada. It is the first album from a Black Canadian artist to reach Gold and Platinum status in this country, so it's a must that I thank all my fans and DJs who supported me. The album is a major part of our legacy here and it's an absolute honour to be acknowledged. Thanks again. Greatly appreciated."

"Thank you for noting Skinny Puppy and our album Bites with Polaris's Heritage Prize," said Skinny Puppy's cEvin Key, who just released his latest solo album. "It's true that the album was made without considering commercial acceptability. It was a vibrant time in downtown Vancouver in 1985. I think most of our dreams were to be dancing at the Luv a Fair and hear one of our tracks. That happened! It's also not common for Skinny Puppy to be noted within the industry through history, except through the support of our devoted fanbase."

Skinny Puppy and Maestro Fresh Wes were up against CanCon class-acts like Sarah McLachlan, k-os, k.d. lang and the Guess Who. See the full list of this year's nominees below.

Slaight Family Polaris Heritage Prize 2023 Nominees:

Beau Dommage - Beau Dommage
The Guess Who - American Woman
k-os - Exit
k.d. lang - Absolute Torch and Twang
Jean Leloup - Le dôme
Maestro Fresh Wes - Symphony in Effect
Sarah McLachlan - Fumbling Towards Ecstasy
Plastikman - Consumed
Rap Essentials Volume One
Robbie Robertson - Robbie Robertson
Skinny Puppy - Bites
Spoons - Arias & Symphonies

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